2011 Pioneer Business Leader
Faysal Sohail is a venture capitalist at CMEA Capital in San Francisco, CA. He joined the firm in 2002 as a General Partner, bringing with him more than a decade of senior executive experience in engineering, marketing, business development and building start ups. Since 2002, he has led venture capital funding to several key start ups in both the energy and technology sectors. He currently serves on the board of directors of AirTight Networks, Applied Wave Research, Danotek Motion Technologies, Evolution Robotics, Multigig and Solaria Corporation. Previously, Faysal served on A123 Systems board as an observer.
Before joining CMEA, Faysal helped to build three companies – Cadabra Design Automation (merged with Numerical Technologies), Silicon Architects (merged with Synopsys; SNPS) and Actel Corporation (ACTL) – which all became successful via either IPO or through merger or acquisition. He attended the Miller School of Albemarle in Charlottesville, Virginia, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), where he also served on the College of Engineering Advisory Board (CEAB). Faysal currently serves on the Advisory Board of IVIE (Illinois Venture Investors & Entrepreneurs Forum). Faysal took graduate classes in engineering at Stanford University where he also consulted for Professor Abbas El Gamal in the department of Electrical Engineering.
Faysal’s support of entrepreneurialism is not only focused in Silicon Valley, but it extends globally. In spring 2010, Faysal was honored to serve as a delegate at President Barack Obama’s Summit on Entrepreneurship where 50 nations were represented by delegates chosen to promote global entrepreneurship. Faysal is a Charter Member of Silicon Valley’s OPEN, an organization dedicated to the promotion of entrepreneurship and business leadership in the Pakistani-American community, and has had an integral role in growing the organization. In June 2010, Faysal delivered the keynote speech at OPEN’s Entrepreneurship Form. In October 2010, Faysal was a member of the Silicon Valley Trade Mission to Russia. The trade mission brought a delegation of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, strategic investors and policymakers to Russia to look for investment opportunities and ways to collaborate globally. Faysal took part in the State Department (Global Entrepreneurship Program) trip to Egypt in January 2011 to foster entrepreneurship in Middle East. The delegation ran an extensive business plan competition and selected the winners and awarded prizes.
When he is not building companies, Faysal pursues a second passion – education, which he believes is the only true economic equalizer in the world. His work in education revolves around two specific goals: getting students in the developed world to college and students in the developing world to become computer literate.
Faysal serves as Chairman of the Board of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, which is an organization dedicated to transforming Silicon Valley into a model for enhancing public education by leveraging partnerships and resources for public education so all students can realize their full potential. Under Faysal’s leadership, the organization has grown to one of the most active non-profit, non-governmental agencies focused on public education in Silicon Valley.
In emerging regions such as Asia and Africa, Faysal has dedicated time and resources to building computer institutes to help thousands of children in small villages become computer literate. He also had an integral role in the development of the curriculum, computer lab set up and the hiring of the instructors.
In his free time, you might see Faysal as a guest lecturer at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley or spending some much coveted time with his wife (Shazia) and four children (Sikander, Sabrina, Zaineb and Dania) at their home in Hillsborough, California.